Violence against women is still persistent in all its forms and represents one of the major issues in the daily lives of Egyptian women. According to figures and statistics from official sources, namely the Women’s Empowerment Strategy 2030, 5.6 million Egyptian women are subject annually to marital violence either from the spouse or partner, while only 75,000 cases have been reported, and only 7,000 seek community services for the protection and prevention of violence.
This is the picture painted by official statistics which does not include the public incidents of VAW/G women are exposed to both in the public and private spheres. However, such incidents are not individual incidents, but they are ever-increasing; these cases as incidents known as the “Zagazig girl” and the “Mall Girl”, in addition to other incidents including a female college student harassed by her professor, a woman slapped while at work, beating girls in schools and educational institutes, incest rape, in addition to numerous incidents of defamation and publishing private pictures, are becoming part of the daily news. They reveal the weakness, and perhaps complicity of the State and social institutions by choosing to remain silent and neglect the issue of violence against women. The status quo proves the need for adopting effective interventions for the prevention VAW and the protection of women.
Despite issuing a national strategy to address violence against women (2015-2020), that aims to adopt concrete interventions in which 11 ministries have been involved, in addition to various national councils, and a limited number of civil society organizations, efforts towards addressing violence are still minimal and ineffective.
The Ministry of Justice is among the ministries involved in the development of this strategy in addition to its responsibility of forming a committee to review legislations, and proposing a new law against VAW. However, until the present date – i.e. the National Year of Women-, the Parliament, the Ministry of Justice among other concerned parties still fail to develop a unified law against VAW, and propose it to social debate in the different concerned arenas and constituencies. It appears that there has not yet been a true will to draft and pass a law criminalizing VAW, during the Year of Women which is already very close to its end. This happens while other Arab States have taken remarkable steps towards ending violence and achieving gender equality at the political and social levels.
Accordingly, nine women’s rights and human rights organizations came together to form a task force to draft a unified law against violence, that is to be submitted to the public opinions and other concerned parties. The law consists of seven chapters beginning with definitions of various forms of violence based on the Constitution and Egypt’s international commitments towards women’s rights. Additionally, the law bill also stipulates litigation procedures, as well as the required interventions for securing protection and preventing the occurrence of violence.
We have also sought to revise the articles of the bill with other relevant laws to reach a unified bill that criminalizes violence and adopts various community interventions to prevent violence and protect women.
The Task Force “For a Unified Law Against Violence” is moving forward towards raising a broad community debate on the draft law with various formal and community-wide stakeholders. Such contribution could motivate different stakeholders such as the Parliament, ministries, national councils, political parties, trade unions, civil society organizations, and youth initiatives to extensively adopt the law bill and work hard to implement an integrated strategy against VAW.
Organizations of the Task Force “For a Unified Law Against Violence”:
New Woman Foundation – Nazra for Feminist Studies – Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance – Egyptian Female Lawyer – Cairo Center for Development – ACT Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development – El Nadeem Against Violence and Torture – Tadween for Gender Studies – Women and Memory Forum.